After years of economic warfare and failed coup attempts from the Trump administration, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is left under crippling US sanctions and with a $15 million bounty on his head. With the new Biden administration, Maduro is hoping US-Venezuela relations will improve.
“We must tell the United States: We want to improve our relations, to make it one of respect, of mutual acknowledgment, a relationship with a future,” Maduro said on Wednesday. He called for Venezuela’s legislature, the National Assembly, to “take initiatives” for a “new beginning” with Washington.
Since January 2019, the US and many of its allies have recognized Juan Guaido as president of Venezuela, despite Maduro holding the office in Caracas. During Tuesday’s confirmation hearings, Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, said the new administration will continue recognizing Guaido.
Guaido has virtually no support left in Venezuela, and since he lost his National Assembly seat, the EU said it no longer recognizes him as president. It’s not a surprise that President Biden is recognizing Guaido right out of the gate, as Trump’s regime change effort in Caracas had bipartisan support.
A report from December said the Biden advisors were preparing for potential negotiations with Maduro. But when asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) if the new administration was planning to enter talks with Maduro, Blinken answered, “No.”
Recognizing the Trump administration’s failure to oust Maduro, Blinken floated some ideas to have a more effective policy. “Maybe we need to look at how we more effectively target the sanctions we have so regime enablers really feel the pain,” he said.